MIDDLE EASTERN ART BEIJING
Shirin Neshat Women Without Men Faurschou Gallery Beijing to January 18 2009
As unlikely as it seems given the current political climate, many people in the art world are now asking: is contemporary Middle Eastern art the next big thing, reports Time Out Beijing.
The present boom is founded on the unprecedented exposure that Islamic culture has received since September 11, as well as the influx of cash from Arabian royal families and governments into new art fairs and museums. However, even trendier than contemporary Middle Eastern art are female Middle Eastern artists, and photographer Shirin Neshat is a big contributor to that.
Neshat has been a resident of the United States for over twenty years, but has returned to visit her family since the 1990s when political conditions improved. In these visits she has maintained a relationship with the Eastern world and witnessed her country change from the progressive political and social system imposed on her country to the present theocratic regime.
‘For me one of the principal challenges,’ Neshat says, ‘is to imagine how the artist who is an immigrant to another country and who is immersed in the characteristics of another culture, can create works that contribute to a broader and more tolerant dialogue.’
For her first exhibition in China at the Faurschou gallery, the 51-year-old will explore the themes of human passion and desire through the conditions of women and religious codes in contemporary Muslim society. She will show her monumental film opus Women without Men consists of five video installations based on Shahrnush Parsipur’s banned book by the same name. The novel is set in 1953, the year when the democratically elected Iranian prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, attempted to avert a coup mounted by American and British forces who wanted to reinstate the Shah as an absolute ruler in order to avoid the nationalisation of the country’s oil industry.
The first thing that will strike you hopefully is a sigh of relief and then, perhaps, a cause for celebration as your faith in art is renewed. The standard at 798 will have been raised once again both in terms of the level that art can effect you and in terms of gallery presentation.
In article in Time Magazine, she was quoted as saying that she seeks to “untangle the ideology of Islam through her art,” and this exhibition, the artist’s first in China, will present five films that reinterpret the lives of five Iranian women in 1953, the year the democratically elected prime minister was overthrown by an American-supported coup d’etat. More than a discussion of the events of this important year in Iranian history, the videos document the personal trials of women living within strict societal restrictions about religious, sexual and social behavior.